Online is turning the beauty market inside out.

Online Beauty Interest Communities Now Dictate the Agenda

June 2015

New groups displace advertisers and marketeers to shape a new agenda.

Beauty buyers, suspicious of paid endorsements, put their trust in communities' product recommendations.

Online groups are becoming people's first port of call about hair and skincare problems.

A new and distinctive voice is making itself heard in the loud and busy world of beauty product recommendations. The online beauty community is now influencing buyer behaviour and setting the agenda for the global powerhouses of the beauty industry.

Online beauty platforms will soon outrank other media (such as magazines and TV) as the main source for beauty product information. The newness of these communities belies the scope of their discourse and their impact on beauty. They are revolutionising beauty marketing and retailing ecosystems.

Users trust these groups' opinions and recommendations because they are based on the real life experiences of real people. Contributors are ordinary (that is, "real”) people whose motivations are mutual assistance. This trust explains why they have become people's first port of call about hair and skincare problems and solutions. These communities have done what is blindingly simple. They moved the 'face to face' and the 'word of mouth' – the key to successfully selling beauty – online.

Communities of interest have effectively filled a void for credible product information and evaluation. Companies failed to realise that buyers were overwhelmed by the volume of marketing and advertising yet underwhelmed by its value. Consumers get suspicious at the mere whiff of a paid endorsement but can believe real life experiences, in other words user generated content. Online communities, not mediated by marketing, are contributing to the decline of advertising, which is losing influence and relevance as regards people's purchasing decisions.

Online communities excel at delivering information. They use every medium such as text, audio, video and photographs at their disposal. Consumers get data and intelligence which no other media (for example print or broadcast) come near to providing. Communities of interest have become repositories of knowledge for today's beauty buyers.

The mobile screen boosted the reach of these groups by making them accessible to anybody with a smart phone or tablet. These communities are now in a virtuous circle of growth and expansion. The community/audience gets larger and exerts more influence. As a result, the once dominant gatekeepers of information, which have lost buyers' trust and market power, are being displaced.

Digital beauty consumer behaviour fully explained in our Digital Beauty Reports. Contact for details